As a very young child, my mother would take me to her hairdressers with her. Her hairdresser had a young child of her own and I was forced to play with her. I do mean forced as Roberta was a demon incarnate. Roberta was a couple of years younger than me and I was told to look after her and that I was responsible for her while we played out in the backyard. She’d often put pebbles and dirt in her mouth and giggled as she did so. I would try to remove these from her mouth frightened that if she’d swallowed and harmed herself I’d be blamed. Roberta would spit, pinch and bite me with a look of pure delight on her face. I was tortured this way once a month each time my mother had her hair done. I dreaded these playtime periods that were thrust upon me. I never revealed to my mother what I endured from Roberta for I thought, being older, I’d be blamed somehow and would be reprimanded.
Thankfully I started school so there came a time where I no longer accompanied my mother to her hairdresser. Roberta’s family kept in contact with my family even after we moved from that area when I was 10 and I was fortunate that I only saw Roberta at gatherings where I didn’t have the responsibility of minding her. Years passed and my family received an invitation to Roberta’s wedding. At this point I was old enough to make decisions for myself and informed my parents I have no interest in going and that I’d be busy on that day. My mother later informed me that Roberta was really disappointed to hear I wouldn’t be attending. “Tough” was my response.
I was visiting my parents one day when who shows up for an impromptu visit but Roberta and her mother. Impromptu, my arse. This was obviously sprung upon me. Roberta went into a long speech detailing how much I meant to her and how much she wanted me to attend her upcoming wedding. It seemed that I was her first friend and was also her only friend during that time. Those once a month tortured days for me was what Roberta looked forward to the most. As she spoke and I listened I came to realise her over the top bad behaviour was due to the fact that Roberta had no idea how to behave with other children because she’d never had a playmate before.
I could now see that she was never a demon child, only a misunderstood child who’d matured into a pleasant adult. I didn’t have the heart to tell her of my dislike for her when we were children. How different our perception of our shared childhood experiences had been. I did end up attending her wedding and it was a lavish affair that I really did enjoy.